He smiled to himself in the back of his carriage, stretching his fingers before clenching them to his palm. He wanted to make the sigh disappear. The sight of his uncle's eyes as life drained from them. He wanted to make it all fade. Just that one judgment that his uncle had passed, that one prophesy. You will die before this year is out. What did he know? He was a stupid old man and nothing at all that he said matter. None of it mattered at all because Jared was completely and entirely above him.
His time at the office passed quickly that day. Going over simply documents and putting his name on the dotted line. And then he retired home. He thought on the ride home that he would be able to drop into Farrah's bedroom, wanting to see that tortured look in her delicate eyes but he couldn't bring himself to do it. All that lingered in his mind was death, those judging eyes and that sentence that his uncle had placed on his shoulders. Could it bet rue?
He drank himself to sleep that night and also the next. No one disturbed him, no one said a single word to him. They simply left him in his study, not caring whether he was alive or dead. There was another perk of all this wealth. You were always alone, no one cared to grow near to you.
He awoke Easter morning with a splitting headache and a terrible pain in his stomach. He hadn't eaten. He had only drank and drank. He didn't see a stop near but he knew that there were guests coming today. He couldn't let them see him in such a mess of a state.
He dressed quickly after washing himself and headed downstairs. The morning was falling away and afternoon was dawning upon them. Everyone would be here soon.
He entered the drawing room and prepared himself a drink, downing it in order to set himself right for the rest of the day. He watched the suns rays glitter in through the windows he smiled to himself. The day was beautiful and so was the drink in his hands. He was ready for today. Nothing could ruin it for him.
He turned when he heard the sweep of skirts behind him. He saw Farrah enter, her hand resting on her belly and her skin glowing in the pink chiffon of her gown. She was a vision, her hair curled and her eyes bright. But that soon faded when her eyes landed on him.
"Should you really drink so much before your guests arrive?" She asked, looking away from him and approaching the sofa.
He smiled. "Worrying again, are we?"
She glared at him over her shoulder. "You never cross my mind."
"Except when I don't make an appearance in your bedroom. Am I right, my darling?"
She made a noise of disbelief before turning away again. "Today will be a mess. A disaster."
"Disasters are delightful." He replied, setting his glass down and moving to the front of the sofa. "You will attend, correct?"
She met his blue eyes and wanted to slap him as she had done that one night in Nightingale. Her hand never raised though and her glare never ceased.
"Good. If not I fear everyone will wonder where the honorable Mrs. Leto is." He smirked before moving away form the sofa and refilling the glass he had just drank from.
It was silent for awhile. Farrah remained sitting there, her hand fiddling with the ribbon on her bodice. And Jared watched her with a quiet smile on his lips. This was his wife, his possession and no matter what she would never leave him. He owned her now. He had her by the neck and she would be dragged about according to his will.
"I heard of your aunt and uncle's passing." She said, looking up to meet his eyes, adjusting them so they didn't seem so sad.
He looked at her almost with shock. "What do you mean?"
"I've known of you, Jared, since before you came across the sea. Your aunt raved of her sister's son and your uncle was curious. I've known so much about you."
"Did it ever make you feel superior? Giving your money to all those hungry people? Those people that beg and who suffer? It must have made you feel like a goddess."
It looked like his words had hit a sort of nerve in her because she looked down quickly and took in a breath. So the saint had a complex. She had done it for selfish reasons and now as she looked in the mirror she understood what it felt like to be a monster.
"If you are trying oy frighten me you should know that it does not work. Everyone knows about my humble upbringing. It's part of my charm." He said with a smile before he emptied his glass and headed out of the room leaving her to sulk in her desperate and self-righteous thoughts.
The guests, for the most part, arrived on time. The party livening up with each new arrival. They appraised their home and it's countless renovations. They honored Jared's working and his respect for everyone who entered his home. And they fawned over the lady of the house as well as the baby in her belly.
Everyone sat down for dinner before the Easter egg hunt began and marveled at the choice of foods once again. These were Tom's friends, no Tom wasn't even here, these were society's elite. The type of people that bought out banks and rested in graves of gold. And Jared still felt superior to them all. Because they were eating his food and inside his home.
"Jared, this was indeed a wonderful thing to do for Easter." One of the old ladies spoke, a wife to a banker.
Jared smiled, patted at his lips with his napkin. "I did not do it because it was a wonderful thing to do."
"Then whyever did you do it?"
"So that you all could cluck over my possessions. The ones you all envy, of course." He replied simply and without falter.
When laughter didn't follow his words a man spoke up. "Your possessions? And which of those possessions do we think we....clucked over?"
"My wife, her growing belly, my most illustrious home." He lifted his glass of wine as he spoke.
"Your wife? Your child? These are your possessions?" He further questioned with knitted brows.
"Are they not to us all? We all must separate ourselves from everything in our lives by some kind of degree. The superior to the inferior." He could see the way Farrah was getting uncomfortable and he basked in it.
"And you, sir, are the superior one? To us all?"
Jared's attention was diverted when he saw the one woman he had been waiting forever to see. Jaqueline strolled into the drawing room that he could see into because of the opened doors. She was dressed in a sapphire gown, her dark hair glorious curls down her back.
"Without a doubt." He replied, emptying his glass and rising. "Now, if you'll excuse me."
Their eyes followed him leave the dining room and greet Jaqueline.
"You've come. And without Tom?" He glanced around as if his friend was going to appear somewhere.
"Tom is such a bore. He prefers indulging in business to entertaining me. So I've come here. You aren't traveling elsewhere, are you?" She asked in that silk voice that made chills race up his spine.
He shook his head. "Nothing has given me reason to."
"Good I'm glad. I prefer to be around a man who only has the mind for me." She laughed a seductive laugh, her eyes playing with his mind from beneath her lashes. "Those vultures seem to be eating you alive." She said, glancing back in to the dining room.
"Those hypocrites are treating me like I am Satan himself." He replied, scoffing as he did.
"Oh I'd so like to see if you were." She declared with a playful smile on her lips.
He looked down at her, drinking in the intoxicated of her features before he took her hand in his, not caring about the eyes watching. "Come upstairs with me." He said in a low voice.
"What of your guests? What would they think?"
He smiled. "Do you think I care what a group of wrinkled cows and greedy bulls think of me? Honestly pay me more credit than that."
She laughed before she lightly squeezed his hand. "Well then, in that case, I would love to."
He pulled her upstairs with him, kissing her fervently., touching her without end. He found in her the desire that he lacked in Farrah. She drove him crazy, whispering things to him that he had only dreamed of. She surrendered herself to him and he to her and by the end of it he was breathless. Without a care and without a thought. He laid there on the bed, cradling her against his chest. She had drifted to sleep. Hours had passed and he knew the party downstairs had ended. The children had found their eggs, fighting the ultimate prize of a sum of money. How quaint, to teach children the importance of greed on such a holy day.
He slipped out from holding her and moved to the chair he had set up near the balcony. He looked out the opened drapes, watching the night flit by darkly. Those stars, those damned glittering stars. So many of them, too many of them. Like the endless eyes of God, watching his every deed. Like the eyes of his uncle, judging him. You will die before the year is out. He wondered if the sky would crash on him. If the dark and inky midnight sky would swallow him whole. Did he wish it would? Did he wish to hear the raising of death's scythe and know it was coming for him?
"Why did you leave?" He heard Jaqueline say but he did not turn to face her.
She wrapped her soft arms around his shoulders and nuzzled his neck, fluttering her lashes against his skin. He took hold of her locked hands and caressed a kiss to it.
"Do you ever wonder?"
"Wonder what?" She asked, her fingers trailing down to his chest.
"About death. How it will come for us all?" He knew his eyes had darkened because his soul had. With each passing day he felt a piece of life slipping from. It was like he was running on borrowed time. Like there was an ocean that belonged to the Heavens and it was nearly ready to sweep him away.
"All of us? Well that's no fun." She whispered, a small laugh in her tone.
He wanted to smile, wanted to break out of this damned state but he could not. He just let out a sigh and glanced up at her. "I will die before this year is out." He said, surprising himself. What was he saying? What had the old man done? Gotten into his head?
She looked at him with confusion for a moment before she shook her head. She took hold of his hand and urged him to stand up. When he did she ran her hands up his chest until she locked them around his neck.
"Stop speaking such nonsense, Jared." She said as she brought him down closer to her. Brushing her lips against his she continued. "You're invincible.
And oh how he wished that he were.